Shauna Phillips of Dallas misses a first-inning grounder in Wednesday’s District 2 softball final against Abington Heights.Pete G. Wilcox/the times leader
Dallas pitcher Kristan Baker is lifted into the air by teammate Erin Belles after Baker gets the final strikeout in the 11th inning to help Dallas capture the District 2 Class 3A softball title over Abington Heights on Wednesday.Pete G. Wilcox/the times leader
THROOP – The annual Dallas-Abington Heights softball playoff match-ups provide a good example of the situations the PIAA was trying to address when it added the International Rules tiebreaker this season.
The Mountaineers and Comets played an extra-inning playoff game for the third straight year and the way pitchers Kristan Baker and Emily Orr were going Wednesday, the teams looked as if they were going to be playing a long time without some extra help in breaking their tie.
Dallas was the first to take advantage of the rules, scoring three runs in the top of the 11th inning without getting the ball out of the infield for a 3-0 victory that decided the District 2 Class 3A championship.
“I wasn’t against it and I wasn’t for it,” Dallas coach Joyce Tinner said of the rules that have teams start each half inning with a runner on second base from the 10th inning on. “To me, I always thought the kids should play it out.”
Tinner, who said that she has not spent much time working on the tie-breaking situations, joked that she sees the rules more favorably after her team prevailed the first time it played under them.
“It’s very nerve-wracking but it’s very exciting,” said Chelsea Pike whose infield single drove in the second run and forced Abington Heights into the error that allowed the third run.
Dallas mastered both parts of the equation under the International Rules.
In their second chance, the Mountaineers used a Mary Kate Osick sacrifice bunt to start the 11th inning to get Baker to third base. They followed with groundballs that were too tough to make clean plays to the plate.
Baker scored the winning run and kept Abington Heights in check. She struck out three of the five batters she faced and got help from a double play.
“This team takes advantage of everything,” Baker said. “We never really practiced it, but we addressed it and we knew we’d have to bear down more.”
Abington Heights beat Dallas in 10 innings in the 2007 district semifinals on the way to the state semifinals and Dallas won last season’s rematch in a nine-inning district championship game.
The pitchers dominated Wednesday’s meeting of division champions until the rules changed.
Pike’s one-out double down the first-base line in the third inning was the only hit off Orr in the first eight innings.
Orr, a senior lefty, struck out the side in the fourth and eighth innings to start and end a stretch where she struck out 10 in five innings.
Baker, a sophomore righty, struck out at least one batter in every inning but the eighth. She gave up three singles in the first six innings then finished strong.
After a Julie Umerich lead-off hit in the sixth, Baker handled the next 18 batters she faced. The only baserunner in that stretch came on a wild pitch on a third strike.
Following Osick’s sacrifice, Dallas manufactured runs in the 11th. Sara Kohli walked and Abington Heights allowed her to take second base to avoid a potential double steal.
Kelly Monaghan then drove in the winning run with a groundball up the first-base line.
When Meghan Martin, a pinch runner for Monaghan, was also allowed to advance to second, Dallas was able to add two more runs.
“We were just playing for one run,” Tinner said. “Anything after that was a bonus.”
Pike hit a grounder to the right side where second baseman Meghan Murray made a tough diving stop. Martin was already rounding third and heading for home behind Kohli when Murray’s attempt at making a late throw got away from first baseman Joetta Hashem.
Baker only needed to face two batters to finish the game in the bottom of the inning.
Kohli handled a groundball at third and threw to first. Sarah Konopki then threw across the diamond to erase the free baserunner.
Baker finished with a three-hitter – two infield singles and Umerich’s grounder up the middle. She struck out 13 without walking a batter.
Baker’s fielding stopped the Comets the only time they advanced a runner to third in the first nine innings. She fielded a comebacker off her shin and threw out Sam LaCoe at first base to end the third inning with Murray trying to score from third.
Dallas opens the state tournament Monday against the District 4 champion – Milton, Jersey Shore or Midd-West.
WP – Kristan Baker 10IP, 3H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 13K; LP – Emily Orr, 10IP, 4H, 3R, 1ER, 1BB, 13K;
2B – (Dal) Pike. Top hitter – (Dal) Chelsea Pike 1-4, 2B, RBI.
Hazleton Area’s Shannon Salvterra pitches a complete game three- hitter in defeating Valley West to advance to the District 2 Class 4A championship game.
The Cougars will play No. 4 Scranton at 4:30 p.m. today at King’s College.
Salvterra went 2-for-3 with a RBI to help out her own cause, while Kayla Kinney provided help hitting a solo home run in the second.
Abby Owens took the loss for the Spartans, throwing a complete game, giving up four runs and striking out one.
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WP – Shannon Salvterra, 7IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 4K; LP – Abby Owens, 6IP, 10H, 4R, 4ER, 4BB, 1K;
2B— (WVW); Edwards. HR— (HAZ); Kinney. Top hitters – (HAZ); Shannon Salvterra, 2-3 RBI, Kayla Kinney, 2-3 home run and RBI. Kaitlyn Bevans, 2-3 RBI.